White Knees

Kate Wyer

The peanut butter would not come off the white tights on her knees. Seeing-eye dogs tried to lick her but she said, Hey, this is mine, and they backed off.

She heard women talking. She thought about how clean their hair must be under those nets. Their scalps clean. She heard a nurse say, Well, you have to subtract eight pounds for the head because he can’t do anything about that. They laughed. The man in the wheelchair on the scale crossed his arms and held onto his elbows. I need more pain medicine, he said. The nurses rolled him away.

She rubbed soap on her knees. Bits of wet paper towel stuck to her tights. Her clipboard slipped into the sink. A dog pushed into a stall and began to drink from the toilet. Its tongue loud and lapping. I remember horses eating sugar cubes from my palm, she told the dog. It looked up from the bowl. Water dripped from its chin.

The nurses wore badges with color codes and carried tiny bottles of hand sanitizer. She dried herself off and returned to the cafeteria, her right shoe squeaking. Her clipboard read: 50 sandwiches, sliced in half. Pears in heavy syrup. Potato chips.

She took the can opener and punctured a lid. Thick white pears escaped as she turned the handle. She filled up plastic cups.

A line started to form. She placed the cups in hands as the trays slid along the rails. Their dogs always looked her in the eye. She knew to look away.